GCC internship for homeschooled student: “NASA is the closest I’ll get to Starfleet”
For 50 years there have been stories of engineers who were inspired to go into the field by Scotty on the original Star Trek TV series of the 1960s.
Whether or not it ever really was a trend, Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the future changed the life path of one Germanna Community College engineering student .
Germanna engineering student Gabriella Graziani says her interest in the field was sparked by 1990s reruns of Star Trek: Voyager:
“I was taking math and science credits at Germanna for my business major and enjoyed them so much. And my brothers were engineering majors and they enjoyed it,” the 22-year-old home-schooled Spotsylvania County native says. “So I decided to change my major. I was not expecting that. I thought I’d go into an artsy field like marketing.”.
She says she now plans to go to into electrical engineering in photonics or optics in commercial industry. Eventually, she says she’d like to teach engineering at a university.
In Star Trek lore, holographic characters are created by containing photons with force fields. She knew that’s not realistic, but it sparked something in her.
“Holograms,” she said. “Photonics and optics. I watch Voyager and I really like the [holographic] doctor’s character. It’s pretty interesting.”
That, in turn, has led to an earned NASA Stem Takes Flight internship through GCC’s Career & Transfer Center.
“NASA is the closest I’ll get to Starfleet,” Gabriella says with a chuckle.
She recommends GCC to other students making the transition from homeschooling to college.
“Germanna is a really good place for homeschoolers to come in and get used to college life,” she says. “The [guaranteed] transfer agreement is great and it’s affordable. My parents and I thought it would be the best fit. I also feel like the teachers are a little bit more focused on the students, rather than starting in a university where there’s a ton of people you’re competing with. There’s a lot of focus at Germanna on helping students succeed.”
Gabriella said she was proud when the Germanna Engineering Club finished in the top 16 of 8 schools at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers robotics competition in April. She praised Germanna engineering department chair Dr. Harry E. Schoeller for the work he’s doing with the program.
She says working in Germanna’s Academic Center for Excellence tutoring center also inspired her. Seeing the determination of some students who came in for help there, she says, made her realize she shouldn’t take anything for granted.
[Fellow Germanna student Charity Williams has the same NASA internship. We’ll take a look at her story soon.]